Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Countdown - Planet Of The Ood

To celebrate the fact that 2013 is the 50th Anniversary of Doctor Who, we are taking a look back at all of the episodes of the show which featured David Tennant as the Doctor. At the end of our look back we'll be asking you, the fans, to vote for what you think is the ultimate David Tennant episode of Doctor Who....
We continue with the next David Tennant episode.... Planet Of The Ood
Read our previous Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Countdown posts here.

32. Planet Of The Ood

First Broadcast on 19th April 2008. Running Time: 43.35 Minutes. Viewing Figures: 7.5 million.
Written By Keith Temple.
Directed By Graeme Harper.
Executive Producers Russell T Davies, Phil Collinson and Julie Gardner. Rating: 8/10.


The Doctor takes Donna far into the future, visiting her first alien world. The duo discover shocking truths about the human race while on the planet Ood-Sphere, as the enslaved inhabitants struggle for survival.

Extras: Promotional Photos |  Videos | Articles | Screen Caps

Production Notes:
For this episode, Russell T Davies put forward the name of Keith Temple as script writer, Davies had worked with Temple's partner Morag Baig on the CITV series Children's Ward. Davies was aware that Temple had been a big fan of Doctor Who since his youth and so in August 2006 the pair began discussing the possibility of Temple writing an episode of the show. Some thought was given to Temple, who had previously worked on the likes of Byker Grove and Emmerdale, writing a story for the 2007 series, but eventually it was decided he would contribute to the 2008 series.

Davies was keen for the Doctor to meet up with the Ood again, the servitor alien race from 2006's The Impossible Planet and The Satan Pit, were popular with the fans, the cast and the crew. His first intention had been to include them in the 2007 story 42, but this idea never came to fruition. 
Whilst preparing for the 2008 series Davies considered making the Ood episode a two parter, but he eventually reasoned that the story would work better if it wasn't over complicated and so it was changed to a one off episode. A scene that was cut due to the downgrading from a two parter, was a sequence where the Doctor searches through caves beneath the planet's surface to find the giant Ood brain.

Temple was asked by Davies to set the episode on an ice planet as no episodes had been set there since the revived Doctor Who hit screens in 2005. It was also suggested that the character of Ida Scott, from The Impossible Planet and The Satan Pit, should feature largely in the Planet Of The Ood. 
Ida was to be a member of a team investigating conditions on the Ood-Sphere. She was to be devastated when she found her long lost father was invloved with Ood Operations, but it was to be revealed later that he was secretly working undercover to help the Ood. In the end the idea was scrapped and it was decided that Temple should create entirely new characters for Planet Of Thed Ood.

When Temple first began writing drafts for Planet Of The Ood Davies was still working on creating a new companion for the Doctor. Because Rose Tyler and Martha Jones had both been young women who were romantically attracted to the Doctor Davies decided that he wanted a companion who was completely different. He had been really impressed with the dynamic between David Tennant and Catherine Tate as the Doctor and Donna Noble in The Runaway Bride and had decided he'd like to pair Tennant's Doctor with a more mature lady, one who wouldn't go starry eyed and light headed at the mere presence of his handsome Doctor. Davies was deseperate for Donna to return as a full time companion, but he thought that he would have no chance of securing such a high profile and in demand actress as Catherine Tate for a nine month shoot. So instead in February 2007 Davies began creating Penny Carter, an all new companion who would have a number of Donna's personality traits. Penny was to meet the Doctor after discovering that her boyfriend, Gary, was cheating on her. The unlucky in love journalist would then join the Doctor on his travels. Penny was to have a nagging mother called Moira and a stargazing grandfather. 

Then in March 2007 Davies heard from Jane Tranter, the BBC Head Of Fiction, she had met up with Tate at a party and her mooted the point of Tate returning to Doctor Who as Donna. By this point Davies was already planning to bring back all of the Doctor's past companions for the 2008 series finale and he hoped he might be able to get Tate to return for this. He was shocked to be told by Tranter that in fact Tate was actually interested in returning to the show for a full series. Davies was extremely excited by this news and on 13th March 2007 Julie Gardiner formally offered a 13 episode contract to Tate. Tate accepted on the 19th March 2007 and all plans for casting Penny Carter where scrapped. 
Tate's return to Doctor Who was announced to the press on 3rd July 2007.

Whilst all this casting news was going on Temple was still working on the draft for Planet Of The Ood. Davies was pleased with the serious and sombre mood of the episode as he felt it would crush criticisms that Donna Noble was too lighthearted to be a credible companion for the Doctor. However as time went on he felt that it's mood was too dark to be episode two in the series  - Temple cited horror film 28 Days as an inspiration for the Oods feral state -   and so it was bumped back to episode three in the broadcast schedule. 
The script also included a reference to the fact that Davies' original plan for the Ood had been inspired by the Sensorites aliens from the 1964 serial The Sensorites. It was now said that the Ood-Sphere and the Sense-Sphere were planets in the same solar system.

The first production block of the series had been devoted to the Christmas Special, Voyage Of The Damned, and so Planet Of The Ood joined The Unicorn And The Wasp as production block two and marked Tate's return to the Doctor Who set.

The director of the episode was Graeme Harper, whose most recent work on Doctor Who had been 42 and Utopia, and who had been working on The Sarah Jane Adventures during the break in filming for Doctor Who.
Producing Block Two was Susie Liggat who was standing in for Phil Collinson to give him time to work on the demanding episodes The Voyage Of The Damned and The Fires Of Pompeii. As with when Liggat took over from Collinson on Human Nature and The Family Of Blood, Collinson was credited as an executive producer on both Planet Of The Ood and The Unicorn And The Wasp.

Filming for Planet Of The Ood began on 21st August 2007 with two days spent recording the reception area scenes at the Upper Boat Studios. Shots of the Ood advert were also recorded there on the 21st. 
On the 23rd August scenes of the Ood-Sphere were recorded at Trefil Quarry in Trefil, Gwent. 
On 24th and 27th August the container room scenes were filmed at the RAF base in St Athan in Barry.
The action remained in Barry from 28th August to 31st August when scenes in the grounds of Ood Operations and the Ood cells were recorded at Aberthaw Cement Works. 

On the 1st September it was back to base at the Upper Boat Studios to film various effects shots and scenes of Bartle's death, Donna in the Ood container and sequences inside Halpen's office.

On the 3rd September the BBC confirmed that Doctor Who had been renewed for a fifth full series, but that this wouldn't air until 2010. During the months between the 2008 series finale and the new 2010 series, a collection of specials starring David Tennant would air. This announcement was prompted by the Royal Shakespeare Company revealing that David Tennant would be joining them to play in Hamlet and Love's Labour's Lost throughout the latter half of 2008. Since this was coinciding with Doctor Who's normal recording schedule, speculation to the show's fate was rife with many wondering of Tennant had quit as the Doctor. 
In fact the gap between series had been planned for a long time, with Davies concerned that the audience may get overdosed on the show and so after four years on air he felt a short break would help to stop any complacency in the show's viewers. He also knew that he would be stepping down around this time and felt that a year without a full series would help to facilitate a smoother transaction to the next showrunner.
It had the added bonus that it mean that Tennant was free to work in the theatre again which was something that he had been keen to get back to.

Production on Planet Of The Ood continued on 4th September when the cast and crew filmed scenes at the main entrance of Ood Operations at the Hynix Building in Newport. Everyone then moved on to the Johnsey Estates in the Mamhilad Park Industrial Estate at Pontypool, where the scenes inside Warehouse 15 were shot. Work on these continued on 5th September, when the Johnsey Estates also provided the location for the corridor outside the Ood cells. On 7th September an extra shot in Halpen's office, of the Doctor and Donna tied up, was then filmed at Hensol Castle in Hensol.
Work on Planet Of The Ood wrapped two months later, on 16th November. The decision to bump the episode back in the broadcast schedule had meant a change to the TARDIS scene, delaying its recording. This was completed at Upper Boat, alongside various insert shots.

The Ood Song:
The Ood sing a beautiful haunting song that transfixes Donna.
According to composer Murray Gold: "Through the translation circuits, the Ood language is rendered into Latin, which is the closest in style and spirit to Classical Ood (as opposed to modern Ood) so that's how we, and Donna, hear the song. In Latin. 

The first part of the Ood song is:
Cum tacent clament. Serva me, servato te
This translates as:
"While we are silent, we are screaming. Save me and I will save you."

And the song of freedom is:
Dum inter homines, sumus colamus humanita (cum tacent clament)
Which translates as:
"When amongst humans, we should be humane."


Ood Sigma: I think your song must end soon.
The Doctor: Meaning?
Ood Sigma: Every song must end.

Solana Mercurio: Doctor Noble, Mrs. Noble, if you'd like to come with me? 
The Doctor: Oh, no. No, no, no! We're not married.
Donna Noble: So not married.
The Doctor: Never.
Donna: Never, ever!

The Doctor first encountered the Ood in 2006's The Impossible Planet/The Satan Pit. In this adventure, they were under the control of the Devil!

Guest star Tim McInnerny is best known for playing Percy and Captain Darling in the Blackadder comedy series. He also appeared in the 2006 film Severance, which was written by Doctor Who and Torchwood scribe James Moran.

The multicoloured Ood artwork seen in the episode is based upon famous New York artist Andy Warhol's pop art prints of the 1960s. The most famous of these was a series of images of film star Marilyn Monroe.
There is a real unexplained phenomenon relating to disappearing bees - Colony Collapse Disorder. Theories from viruses to mobile phone radiation have been put forward as the reason for increasingly deserted Honey Bee hives across the world. We wonder if there's something more to it though...
Avid fans may recognize similarities between the Ood and the eponymous monsters from 1964's The Sensorites. Apparently the Ood's planet - The Ood-Sphere - is near the Sense-Sphere, home of the Sensorites.
The snow scenes were shot in a boiling hot week in August, using fake snow. This can be made in several ways. Usually the most convincing settled snow is created from tiny pieces of paper, with sprayed foam a good solution for falling snow.

According to the Ood Operations Sales and Information Pack, you can buy a variety of the creatures: Household Ood, Pilot Ood, Personal Trainer Ood and Military Ood. There's also a 15 per cent discount if you buy ten Ood!

Previous frosty locations visited by the Doctor include Antarctica (The Seeds Of Doom (1976) and The Tenth Planet (1966)), The Roof Of The World in Tibet (Marco Polo (1964)), Necros (Revelation Of The Daleks (1985)), Ribos (The Ribos Operation (1978)) Ice World (Dragonfire (1987)), an icecano full of Daleks on Spiridon (Planet of the Daleks (1973)), the Ice Tombs of Telos (The Tomb of the Cybermen (1967)) and a glacier between Britain and the rest of Europe (The Ice Warriors (1967)).
Furniture and props in the Ood operations offices bear a passing resemblance to those seen in Stanley Kubrick's future worlds of A Clockwork Orange and 2001: A Space Odyssey.
There's a distinct absence of robots in the 42nd century. That's because discounted Ood are much cheaper. Even in the future humans still love a bargain.
Halpen's rocket is an upmarket version of the escape ship from The Satan Pit.
Ood Sigma stands out as the only Ood to be identified by a logo - the greek letter 'sigma' - on his jacket.

The transformation of Halpen into an Ood was originally far more graphic, but after viewing the footage it was re-edited to be less horrific for a family audience.

  • David Tennant - The Doctor
  • Catherine Tate - Donna Noble
  • Tim McInnerny – Klineman Halpen
  • Ayesha Dharker – Solana Mercurio
  • Adrian Rawlins – Dr Ryder
  • Roger Griffiths – Commander Kess
  • Paul Clayton – Mr Bartle
  • Paul Kasey – Ood Sigma
  • Tariq Jorden – Rep
  • Silas Carson – Voice of the Ood